I love to travel. I love news places and new cultures. And Indonesia.
But sometimes you just crave the comforts of home. It’s not at all that I have some deep desire to move home… I simply need a few tastes of America once in a while. In Costa Rica, I would periodically visit Pizza Hut. I’m not sure I’ve ever intentionally eaten at a U.S. Pizza Hut in my life, but it was that little bit of something familiar that I needed. In Spain, it was T.G.I.F. (Not only did they provide Heinz ketchup, but they showed the U.S.A. world cup games, which, for the record, are quite difficult to view anywhere but the States).
I’ve now been in Indonesia 3 months, and it was time for a go-find-things-I’ve-missed day.
You must understand, I live in a rather Westernized suburb of Jakarta. I have access to most things I would’ve wanted when I lived on the opposite side of the world, in addition to many treats I couldn’t have afforded there (primary example: massages). That said, the items that are unattainable seem that much more fantastic when you can’t find them. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Side note: All attempts to find Gushers have been futile. If you know where in Indonesia one can locate Gushers, please inform me.
This afternoon, I headed into downtown Jakarta with some fellow teachers. I must say, it was a great get-away. I realized, though, that it wasn’t an escape from Indonesia that made it so refreshing, but that adventure to the in between place, the middle-ground where I can experience the best of both worlds.
I’ve actually become quite fond of the quirks of Indonesia (which are, in all reality, just quirks to me, because of my American perspective). It’s like that friend that’s different from most people that you know – at first, the oddities kind of throw you off. After a while, though, you get used to them, and they become comforting and wonderful. I would miss these new, different things that have become comfortable here, were I to leave.
First, we went to the Duty Free shop. I must preface this by explaining that finding alcohol is virtually an impossibility in this country. The above mentioned shop sells nothing but alcohol to no one but expats. It’s half-hidden off of the main street and has darkened doors; in order to purchase the drinks, one most produce a passport from another country. I have no idea what the legality behind this is or how they can manage such sales, but do wonder how it is pulled off.
Side note #2: the neighboring store sold mustache-shaped cookie cutters. How cool is that!?
After our quick stop at the secret expat hideout (I must say, it’s weird to me now when I’m surrounded by white people. I wonder why they’re there and join in the staring.), we continued to a new mall complex. Malls spread like the most contagious of diseases here – they’re everywhere, most of them stretching six or seven stories high. We headed to a new one that combined three malls into one. The first was a sort of gigantic mall version of a market, the final one a very nice, new mall, and the middle one was an somewhere between the two (both physically and in terms of atmosphere).
We explored for a while, especially enjoying the emptiness of the final mall (things tend to be extremely crowded here – walking in a straight, unhindered line is a luxury). We found many things that would’ve been a struggle to find in the States. For example,
As I explained before, though, the beauty of this trip was in the happy marriage between Indonesian and American. I was also able to indulge in several treats that I normally struggle to find in Indonesia:
We even stumbled upon an impressive display of Jakarta street photography, which captured perfectly many of the cultural aspects of the city. The truth in the photos saddened us at times, and caused us to laugh at others. After the crazy introduction to rainy season a few days ago (really – we’re talking rivers replacing streets and stairs being transformed into rushing waterfalls), the picture of men kayaking through traffic was one of my favorites.
Finally, we finished out the day relaxing in plush, $3.50 seats (another perk of living in Indonesia) of Nemo in 3D, complete with a hilarious Toy Story short film to start it off.
Life is good.